- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A report from Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance says half of the 45 monitoring sites on the Raccoon River in central Iowa are showing the highest average nitrate levels in 10 years of data collection.

The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/1MNLtMV ) reports the data on the river, which is a source of drinking water for 500,000 central Iowa residents, was included in the agribusiness group’s Thursday report.

The group’s executive director Roger Wolf says significant amounts of rain this year has stripped nitrogen from the state’s farm fields, and nitrate levels have fluctuated in recent years due to shifts between wet and dry growing condition. He said many factors influence water quality, but that weather is a particular driving force.

The report also says high nitrate concentrations were found across 30 sample sites on the Boone River.

According to the group, the testing conducted on the Raccoon and Boone river watersheds “reaffirms the need for continuous improvement and greater collaboration.”

Jennifer Terry, environmental advocacy leader for Des Moines Water Works, says the group’s report shows “continued water degradation.” Terry also noted that the state’s voluntary Nutrient Reduction Strategy “will not succeed.”

The strategy is designed to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous levels that enter Iowa waterways and contribute to the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Terry said, “This shotgun approach has no timelines, no implementation targets, no required water quality monitoring and no sustained funding mechanism.”

The group has invested $1.5 million in water quality monitoring to target improvement efforts, including a $354,000 initiative working with farmers in Sac, Calhoun and Carroll counties to adopt more conservation efforts.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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